Our friends at the National Association for Voluntary and Community Action (NAVCA) — the national body local support and development organisations like VAL — recently released a ‘Policy and Insight’ bulletin reviewing how the land lies after the recent election.
As well as sharing this bulletin, which can be downloaded below, we thought it’d be helpful if we shared some thoughts about the local picture as we see it.
Our political representation at Westminster
In the election, all of Leeds’ MPs kept their seats. However, with Conservatives making large gains across West Yorkshire it is inevitable that their views will have an impact on our region and on Leeds.
It’s always important for third sector organisations to engage constructively with MPs, making the case for what the unique difference our sector makes, advocating for the interests of the people we work with and, on occasion, respectfully challenging injustice where we see it. With the scale of political change in our region, getting to know our MPs is more important than ever.
Investment in the North and in Local Authorities
After the election, the Prime Minister shared his view that former Labour voters had ‘leant the Conservatives their vote’. Subsequently, there has been much debate about the need to invest in the North. After many years of under-investment, and with forecasts suggesting that negative economic impacts of Brexit will be felt hardest in the North, it is really important that the government’s positive indications are realised.
Currently, the main way that regional funding is directed is through the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and the Local Enterprise Partnership. It is really important that third sector organisations seek to influence these bodies and Third Sector Leeds (the voice and body for the third sector in Leeds) is currently working on members behalf, to engage partners in this debate.
For many of our members, their key relationship is with the Council and Leeds has an enviable record of maintaining its investment in the third sector despite the squeeze on their finances. The Council also delivers many of the services that communities rely on. Unfortunately, throughout the election there was little suggestion that Council funding will be increased towards pre-austerity levels.
The Chancellor’s first budget on 11 March will give the first clear view about what the new funding settlement for our region and our city might be.
There is a strong argument that one of the reasons for our regionally unbalanced economy and political system is that power has become too centralised in Westminster. Although there is no elected Mayor in Leeds and its surrounding areas, the growing visibility of Mayors in other areas suggests that the time is right to explore further devolution in general and a growing urgency for new arrangements in Leeds and West Yorkshire.
The third sector has a major role to play in advocating for a new approach to devolved politics, one that puts communities at the heart of debate about the decisions that are made for the places they live.
About the TSL Collective 2020
With the rapid changes going on around us, the Third Sector Leeds Leadership Group believe that it is the right time to bring members together from across Leeds to explore the sort of city we want to live, and to amplify the voice of the third sector in shaping the future.
We are kicking off this conversation with a one day conference on March 25 called the TSL Collective. The keynote speaker at the event, the Chair of ‘The People’s Powerhouse’ will open the debate about devolution. We also plan to give delegates an update on the likely impact of the budget on the third sector’s work.
Further details about this event and an event sign-up will be published here in the coming weeks.
Photo by Shane Rounce on Unsplash
(PDF, 617.9 KB)
Policy and Insight Bulletin published by NAVCADownload